Rajkummar Rao is a busy guy. He has five releases this year including his last release Trapped. He has surprised audiences and the film industry alike with his choice of characters and performance – be it Shahid (2013), CityLights (2014) or Aligarh (2016). With his next film Newton being acclaimed at the Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF) 2017, the actor talks about his love for acting and how he chooses his movies.
With varied films such as Behen Hogi Teri, Omerta, Newton and Bareilly Ki Barfi, what is your headspace like?
I am excited and nervous about all the releases this year. I am glad all of them are very different films. I am happy about my career and I feel God has been kind. I have never planned my career and I go with the flow. I read scripts offered to me and when something excites me as an actor, I take it up, and give my heart and soul to it. I really can’t connect dots or think far into the future. Nothing is in your hands as you don’t know what will work [at the box office] and what won’t. You can listen to your heart, take up roles you believe in, subjects that excite you and roles that challenge you. When I am shooting a film and playing a part, the process of making the film is the biggest high for me. How and when a film will release is not in our control. I enjoy the process and move on to my next project.
Newton won the Best Film at the HKIFF this year. How much do awards at festivals help an actor’s career?
I am in a happy space that it won the Best Film award. After the acclaim at the Berlin International Film Festival, this is another feather in our cap. You get to meet like-minded people at these amazing film festivals. You show them your work and watch their films and you never know someone might cast you in a project of their language. You get a different feedback from an international audience.
Do you feel you are the go-to person for roles that ask a lot from the actor?
I don’t know about that, but I feel grateful that people are considering me for all kind of roles. I have a love story, a comedy, action comedy, drama, etc. I don’t want people to typecast me or put my films into one genre. I want to explore every role possible. And I am glad that I am able to do so.
Is it tough to balance niche and commercial films?
I don’t compartmentalise films or look at a film like this is a non-commercial or commercial film. It’s always about the excitement for the role. Like, I chose to play an over 300-year-old person in an upcoming film. It’s a cameo, but I took it up, as I might not get the chance to play such a role ever again. The prosthetics team worked really hard on the look, which was fantastic, and I am glad that people couldn’t recognise me. And for that matter, Behen Hogi Teri and Bareilly Ki Barfi are content-driven films and not banene ke liye, banai type (made for the sake of it). My motive to choose a film is content and what am I doing in that film.